Generation Z, Cognitive Gap and Consumer PR.

When we talk about the Generation gap, in general, it’s about age and the root of this gap is always regarded to be different age groups.



However, modern society with a social media lifestyle makes this concept be about the various Cognitions that people hold. And people are creating more contradictions in the digital world. Looking through those social media platforms, it is really hard for people to reach the consensus, they prefer to remain their ideas and refuse to make discussions for the consensus, more contradictory is being created.


Modern world citizens live inside their cocoons. The internet hasn’t been proved to be a booster for people getting connected in the 21st century as its role seems to be. Yet individual differences have made things more complicated because people in each group or stratum would receive their necessary information, the way they view the world as well as the value they consider all kinds of stuff would be differentiated. Let’s call this phenomenon as the Cognitive Gap.


Cognitive Gap, meaning people with the same generation doesn’t share the same opinions anymore, that we cannot understand each other’s jokes or even conversations.


This situation has put a great impact on the brand marketing PR: the fact that people of different age groups and different social classes with different accesses to brand messages via different media outlets will affect their first impressions of the brand, and also their opinions on the brand could be various and are hardly changed.


The initial purpose of the PR work is for the communication reach to more people, all people. But now with this new phenomenon of Cognitive Gap, we have to identify precisely the audience so that our communication efforts will be accurate, and sometimes we have to avoid advertising to certain groups, which will save unnecessary trouble. Because of this phenomenon, a brand could make mistakes by wasting resources during communication.


For example, public opinions and target consumers could be two types of people. Or, the reviewers and the actual users could be consumers could two types of groups, some influencers and key opinion leaders may not be the users at all and the consumers of some products don’t care about or participate in public opinions.


Inefficient use of resources would cause an inaccurate image of a brand, one brand could be popular and famous among social platforms or media coverages, but it could suddenly fail in a short time. In opposite, some brands have few voices in media platforms and a huge customer base at the same time.



Everyone holds a different interpretation in their worlds.


The core problem has appeared: how should we define ‘the mass’ and who has taken control of it? The ‘public opinion’ is operated by a small group of people and it sometimes could not be representative of the whole society. In the progress of social marketing, we need to find out those possible traps in communication. Those mainstream influencers, media and celebrities’ endorsements that we have focused on may not be so influential as we thought.


Take an example of Generation Z, those youths aged from 15-24, their purchase habit could be hardly influenced by public opinions. They are inattentive to those mass mediums (ads from televisions, radios, and press) when they want to purchase something, they prefer to believe the authentic recommendations from influencers, more precisely Micro and Nano influencers, because their words are more authentic.


Thus, it is vital to put ourselves in customers’ shoes, whom they believe and what they will listen to. We need to become the convinced ‘medium’ between audiences and the products. When we do our job as PR, it’s essential to understand who are your consumers, and which are the social platforms, mediums, and influencers they trust.



Most brands only serve a certain group of people, but not all people. When we are doing PR work, it’s time for us to transit from media PR to consumer PR. One thing you need to be reminded of is that the mainstream cannot represent your consumers and thus have less influence on them. The essence of our PR work in social marketing is always to find the right mediums that could convince customers, they will become the ‘voices’ of companies and communicate directly with the audiences.


Thanks to the internet, people could easily search for the information they want and express their opinions freely. The consciousness of individualism has become more obvious than before and the differences have cultivated that Cognitive Gaps. Not many brands have taken it seriously. Different consumers nowadays have their platforms to get the information they want freely. It’s obsolete to focus only on mainstream media and social platforms.


We should treat this kind of phenomenon seriously and think about it thoroughly. The target that we PR needs to focus on is the consumers. We need to make a comprehensive analysis of certain groups of consumers and form a practical strategy just for them.


Focus on targeting your specific audiences as we could not convince all people at the same time, manage the resources efficiently and form the specific strategy to connect your brand and the target consumers. That should be our PR guidelines all the time.


- Be Influential Agency at Shanghai, China


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